The disciples’ expectations and hope: Meditation for The Sunday after Ascension
The Sunday after the Ascension of our Lord is sometimes also called the Expectation Sunday. This is because the Sunday marks the expectation of the Holy Spirit by the disciples, because of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, even before His death (John 14:12,16). Thus, at His ascension, He charged them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift… in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 1:4-5).
The question for today’s meditation, therefore, is: After the Ascension, what next? The Lord has promised the Holy Spirit to be in us, as we continue to live on earth; after and with which we will go to be with the Lord where He has gone before us. This is our hope consequent on the Ascension. The prayer (Collect) for the day expresses this, as it petitions God Who exalted His Son to heaven not to leave us comfortless, but to send His Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to the place where Christ is gone before.
The risen Lord has ascended to heavens, where He sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us. So, although we mark the physical departure of the Lord in the Ascension, He has not left us on our own as orphans (Jn 14:18). With faith, we can even do greater works than Jesus did (Jn 14:12).
Man has often found himself in ugly and helpless predicaments, and we may be presently passing through different problems and difficulties. But by the reason of His resurrection/ascension power and the Holy Spirit in us, everything will turn around for our good and we can now operate in a new realm of life. As He has gone to be on the throne, we are hopeful of better tomorrow, no matter how ugly the situation may be. This is why a true Christian can never commit suicide. No matter how dark things look, the Lord can turn things around and make all things new for those who know and trust Him. He can bring about overhauling transformations – the new life in Christ, turning our sorrows and mourning to joy and rejoicing, a miraculous restoration to health, an amazing financial boom, an overwhelming breakthrough, a promotion, translation to a new realm of life, etc. It is this hope that distinguishes a Christian and keeps him joyful always. To lack this hope is to lack trust in the Lord, which is tantamount to unbelief and rejection of God, and that is what life of hopelessness and suicide are.
Reflections on the Bible Readings for Day
The OT (2Kgs 2:1-15) tells of how Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind and a double portion of his anointing transferred to Elisha, his faithful disciple, who remained on earth as his successor. This foreshadows the Lord Jesus’ ascension and the subsequent coming of the Holy Spirit on His disciples. We need unction to function. Just as Elisha coveted the double portion of his master’s anointing and got it, so we can have anointing for greater things if we believe. Every disciple of Jesus needs the anointing of the Holy Spirit to perform on this earth. In the Epistle (Eph.4:1-13), Paul relates the unity, ministry and edification of the church to the gift of the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus Christ consequent on his ascension.
The Gospel (Jn 16:1-24) can be said to be the Lord’s farewell address to His disciples. He told them He was going back to Him Who sent Him and as a result, they would pass through persecution, grief, weeping and mourning. However, His going was ultimately for their good, as it would lead to the sending of the Holy Spirit. Their grief would eventually turn to joy. The disciples anticipated the Holy Spirit and hoped for better tomorrow. So are the entire Christians.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
No comments yet